As the nightlife mobile app Foursquare gains popularity among the city’s digerati, the classic playground game four square is taking Brooklyn politicians and City Council candidates by storm.
It all started on July 4, when Michael Freedman-Schnapp, volunteer coordinator for Brad Lander, who is running for Bill de Blasio’s Council seat (Mr. de Blasio is running for public advocate), challenged Councilman (and city comptroller candidate) David Yassky to an impromptu four-square game on Bedford Avenue. (The street is closed off to traffic on select Saturdays during the summer.)
The match caught the attention of Aaron Short, a community news reporter and local blogger who was out on assignment in the neighborhood that day.
“I thought, well, he looks like Harry Potter. I can take him!” said Mr. Short, who challenged Mr. Yassky to four square the following weekend. Same time. Same place.
The object of the game is to make it into the highest numbered square by eliminating other players, which happens if they hit the ball twice when it is bounced into their respective courts.
Mr. Short said he entered many a four-square game during his formative years at a Connecticut summer camp, but he was no match for Mr. Yassky, who won the most points and kept sending Mr. Short back to square one.
“He lulls you to sleep by not being fiery, but he’s very efficient and competitive,” said Mr. Short. “This is what he’s going to do in the comptroller race—lull his opponents to sleep.”
Asked what he thought of this analogy, Mr. Yassky replied: “All I know is that I stayed in that No. 1 box for a good long while, but what matters is who’s in the No. 4 box at the end.” (Council candidate Jo Anne Simon also got in on the action that day.)
The following weekend, Mr. Short upped the stakes by challenging State Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic party boss Vito Lopez to a match at a mural dedication in Greenpoint. Mr. Lopez didn’t show, but his former chief of staff, Stephen Levin, whom the assemblyman is backing to replace Mr. Yassky in the Council, did, as did various community board members. Council candidate Evan Thies was gearing up to compete but had to leave for another event, said one spectator.
As of press time, the latest four-square development was a mutual challenge between Mr. Short and Mr. Lander. The match will be played this Saturday at a yet-to-be determined location, and it was rumored that Mr. Lander’s opponent in the race for Mr. de Blasio’s seat, Josh Skaller, would be competing as well.
“We’re gonna show them how it’s played in south Brooklyn,” said Mr. Freedman-Schnapp, adding a disclaimer: “As far as our campaign goes, I would not read anything into the fact that we’re playing four square.”